It was going to be a warm day. I packed an extra bottle of cold water in my small backpack and set out for a 12-km hike in the dry, semi-arid terrain of the Aravalis.
The world’s oldest (and damaged) mountain range comes to its sorry end near my doorstep. I didn’t know this till about a few weeks ago.
And I was pretty kicked about finding one of Delhi’s little-known wonder. Some online posts had talked about a hidden lake. Lake? In Delhi? Seriously?
The red soil on gravel tracks crushed under my sneakers, making a crunchy sound. I glanced at the kikar trees around, so unwelcoming. They have thorns, and barely any shade.
A few kilometers down the track, the path becomes rough. It’s uneven, and the thorny bushes are perfect for snatching your arms and legs. But what makes the walks fun is the hundreds of butterflies you come across.
There are other animals in the area too. There is a small water body – turned all green – hidden behind trees where you see hints of animals visiting. A rotting carcass of a nilgai, and leopard footprints.
I wasn’t alone. My group of nature enthusiasts kept pointing at a bird or a nest or a giant spider web. We hiked further ahead, lots of turns and rocky bends.
We walk for about two hours.
Then reach an open, hilly area, with loads and loads of monkeys. Apparently, they have been captured from the city and released into the wild here.
They don’t attack you or come close, but it’s better not to carry any tempting food items!
And then all of a sudden, the view.
Fresh water lake, surrounded by hills.
Lying alone and abandoned.
It’s very quiet here. Some butterflies.
I climb down the hill to reach the water. It’s huge, about 8-10 kms perhaps.
I sit by the side. In complete silence. The fruit of my labour.
It’s a small blessing, to discover such hidden gems in and around Delhi, known better as the world’s most choked city.
It has toughened my resolve that it is indeed possible to discover and restore the habitat we are losing to human encroachment and mindless construction.
There is a way around. We deserve a city that has lakes, forests, riverside and hills.